(ATR) – With one week of competition remaining, the South American Games are coming out better than expected.
Camilo Pérez, president of ODESUR, the association of 14 South American countries which owns the event, says he also recognizes it’s still too early to proclaim success in Cochabamba.
The Bolivian city is hosting more than 4,000 athletes from the continent through June 8. Pérez and his team are confident that the events to come will continue to flow smoothly
Perez, the Paraguay NOC president, carries the same optimism he had before the event when there were concerns that the dates might need to change to accommodate delays in the completion of the venues.
"We knew we were taking a risk because the times were short," Pérez told Around The Rings, "and also we had no other options," he adds.
"Although we would have liked that several of the facilities were completed earlier so that they could be tested in time by the athletes," he says.
Most worrisome was the new velodrome. But on Friday came news that the new facility received homologation from the International Cycling Union.
Perez says the glitches in Cochabamba are "the normal problems of a Games of this size".
"There is a lot of public interest and the city is alive with joy," he says.
Pérez "absolutely" dismisses the belief that political conflicts between opponentsand the government have had a negative impact on the Games.
"I do not feel pressure of any kind. Everything (has been) very sporting," he says.
"ODESUR is fulfilling its role not only to achieve good games but to leave a legacy in the host country," says Camilo Pérez.
Perez spoke to Around The Rings watching Bolivia win its first gold medal of the games, in racquetball.
Crowds have cheered in the aquatic center for Karen Torres, the Bolivian swimming star winning three silver medals this week. In the basketball tournament the Bolivian women were in second place.
Bolivian President Evo Morales has promised $20,000 for each Bolivian medalist.
Brazil is leading the medal table, followed by Colombia, Venezuela and Chile.
A South American and Pan American record has been set in weightlifting by nationalized Cuban Arley Méndez in the 85 kg division.
Méndez won the gold six months after the 2017 World Championship in Anaheim, California where he won Chile’s first weightlifting world title. This week also marked the one year anniversary of his Chilean citizenship.
The Cuban defected in Santiago de Chile in 2013 during a Youth Pan American Tournament.
"I dedicate this triumph to my father who is in heaven and to my people, Chile," Mendez says the press of his new adopted country
The program in Bolivia includes 35 sports and 377 events.
A total of 16 disciplines award classifications for the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima.
Reported by Miguel Hernandez.